Blues' Play-Off hopes take a dent as Rhodes haunts Town again
Jordan Rhodes returned to haunt Town, grabbing his third goal in as many games against Blues to send Blackburn on the way to victory.
The Scotland international, who left Portman Road in 2009, rifled a left foot strike past Dean Gerken midway through the second-half to open the scoring for Rovers.
Rudy Gestede made it two 10 minutes from time with a close range header to dent Blues’ Play-Off hopes and keep alive Blackburn’s own top six ambitions, with Jonny Williams going closest to finding the net for Town.
Mick McCarthy made two changes to the side that drew with Nottingham Forest last weekend, with Frank Nouble and Anthony Wordsworth returning to the starting line-up at the expense of Stephen Hunt and Paul Anderson.
Lee Williamson tested Dean Gerken from distance inside the first minute while at the other end, good work by Williams saw him tee up Daryl Murphy with a cross, the striker firing over on the turn at the near post.
Williams again conjured up another cross, this time from the other flank, Paul Robinson gathering as Nouble challenged.
A rare mistake by Christophe Berra gave Rovers an opening down the left but Tom Cairney’s effort was forced away from the danger area, Craig Conway then sending a header across goal, Corry Evans’ cross diverted behind as the home side enjoyed a flurry of activity around the Town goal.
Nouble showed a good turn of pace down the left for Blues, his cross rescued by Robinson as Murphy threatened.
Williams, as influential as ever, had the Rovers defence on the backfoot with a terrific delivery that Murphy attacked superbly but he couldn’t keep his header down.
Cairney, the main provider for Rovers in the first 45 minutes, saw a 25 yard curler saved by Gerken, Gestede then ripping a ferocious effort from the same distance just over.
Williams continued to pose questions of the Rovers' defence, another teasing cross winning a corner, the midfielder then denied by terrific defending after Murphy had got free down the left.
Gerken saved superbly from Gestede’s header, Cairney then dragging his shot wide from distance to bring an even first-half to a close.
Michael Keane’s rampaging run down the Rovers’ right forced an early second-half corner for the home side but Town held firm, Williams then breaking away for Blues and sending a right footer just wide after running three quarters of the length of the pitch.
Robinson had to go at full stretch to keep out Nouble’s long range strike, the former England No.1 having a much easier time to hold on to Luke Chambers’ effort after a clever exchange of passes with Williams.
Conway smashed the ball well over Gerken’s bar as both sides pressed for the breakthrough, Tommy Smith’s header deflected into Robinson’s hands from a free-kick before Rhodes made his mark on the game, getting on the end of Gestede’s flick and firing a left footer past Gerken to give the home side the advantage on 64 minutes.
Cairney volleyed over as Rovers looked for a second, Gerken holding on to Conway’s wayward free-kick before Town made a change, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake on for Wordsworth.
Gestede should have made it two 15 minutes from time, the frontman the first to Rhodes’ overhead kick but he blasted over from close range.
Luke Varney replaced Evans in Rovers’ first change and seconds later Blackburn doubled their lead, Gestede getting his head on Conway’s free-kick to force the ball home.
Ebanks-Blake had a shot blocked inside the Rovers’ box as Town looked for an immediate response, Nouble also denied, while Cairney could have made it three in added on time.
Rhodes’ 50th League goal for Rovers, maintaining his record of scoring in every game he has played against Blues – proved the turning point though, edging the points in the direction of the home side when they were very much up for grabs with 25 minutes left on the clock.
The defeat sees Town five points off the Play-Offs with Tuesday’s visit to Huddersfield to come.
Blackburn: Robinson, Keane, Hanley, Kilgallon, Spurr, Williamson (Etuhu 90), Evans (Varney 77), Cairney, Conway, Gested (Dunn 83), Rhodes. Subs not used: Eastwood, King, Taylor, Feeney. Booked: Kilgallon, Williamson.
Town: Gerken, Chambers, Berra, Smith, Cresswell, Hyam (Green 89), Skuse, Wordsworth (Ebanks-Blake 73), Williams (Hunt 85), Nouble, Murphy. Subs not used: Loach, Richardson, Mings, Tabb. Booked: Wordsworth, Chambers.